4 Things to Avoid When You Have Alopecia Areata

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Updated 28/03/2023

Are there certain things to avoid when you have alopecia areata? Here’s what to consider.

Imagine this — you step out of the shower and dry your hair only to notice a glaring bald patch on your scalp. For the 6.8 million people in the U.S. who deal with alopecia areata, a common type of hair loss, what might be a nightmare to some is their reality.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the hair follicles. This results in patchy hair loss — typically small, round patches of hair loss — from the scalp or other parts of the body.

While there are treatment options for alopecia areata, avoiding some common triggers and risks might help keep your condition under control. Ahead, four things to avoid when you have alopecia areata.

What To Know About Alopecia Areata

Dealing with a condition like alopecia areata can be frustrating, to say the least. But before getting into things to avoid when you have alopecia areata, it helps to know a little more about this type of alopecia (the medical term for baldness).

Alopecia areata is a result of the immune system attacking hair follicles and stopping hair growth. Potential triggers include stress, a family history of the disorder or other autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis or thyroid diseases.

Alopecia areata usually results in patchy baldness rather than receding hairlines, thinning hair or excessive shedding from other types of male pattern baldness.

Of course, symptoms can vary depending on the type of alopecia areata you have:

  • Patchy alopecia areata. This is a common type of alopecia areata

    with the usual round patches of hair loss.

  • Alopecia totalis. Alopecia totalis is hair loss on all or nearly the entire scalp.

  • Alopecia universalis. In this rare type of alopecia areata, there is a complete or nearly complete loss of hair on the scalp, face and the rest of the body.

Your immune system attacks your hair follicles but doesn’t destroy them — meaning new hair growth is possible through various methods of treatment.

But finding a successful treatment could take some trial and error. So in the meantime, here are four things to avoid when you have alopecia areata.

4 Things to Avoid When You Have Alopecia Areata

While there’s no cure for alopecia areata, there are ways you might be able to manage your condition. Still, it should be noted that alopecia areata is unpredictable and the exact cause can vary by person. Here are some things to avoid when you have alopecia areata.

Inflammatory Foods

Alopecia areata is an immune response, meaning how your body defends itself against viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances, and usually results in an inflammatory response.

Certain foods encourage an inflammatory reaction, promoting and exacerbating autoimmune symptoms.

Try to avoid or limit these foods:

  • Refined carbohydrates

  • Fried foods

  • Sugary food and beverages

  • Red meat and processed meat

  • Margarine, shortening and lard

By avoiding these foods, you may be able to lessen some of the symptoms of alopecia areata. 

You might also consider eating more anti-inflammatory foods, as there’s some anecdotal evidence that dietary changes may have a positive effect on alopecia areata. Foods found to be beneficial for hair loss were fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lean meats like wild-caught salmon.

Excessive Stress

Stress is a natural, normal part of the human experience, and your body knows how to handle it.

When you’re under stress, your body releases stress hormones that activate your fight-or-flight response to help you survive.

But long-term stress can cause or worsen several health problems — including inflammation.

Understandably, alopecia areata may also cause emotional distress and negatively impact your self-esteem. You may be more at risk for anxiety and depression if you experience this type of hair loss.

While there isn’t a direct connection between stress and alopecia areata, managing stress certainly can’t hurt.

If you’re dealing with psychological distress, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional. You can connect with a mental health provider from your home using our online mental health services, allowing you to easily access support and ongoing care.

Too Much Sun Exposure

We know that getting too much sun isn’t good for your skin. So if you have bald patches, be sure to use sunscreen or wear a hat to protect areas of your skin with noticeable hair loss from UV-related damage.

Not Enough Vitamin D

A review of studies found that people with certain autoimmune diseases may have a vitamin D deficiency.

Multiple studies have also found a link between levels of vitamin D and hair growth. But since alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, the issue of hair loss isn’t actually related to nutritional deficiencies.

More research is needed before we know whether low levels of vitamin D could be a factor in alopecia-related hair loss.

Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair

Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.

Ryan, 29

Verified review

Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!  

Bryan, 28

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Milton, 36

Verified review

After 7 months, I have experienced incredible results and my hair is back.

Tony, 32

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Parbhu, 28

Verified review

It has helped boost my confidence as well as give me a full head of hair to play with. I am so pleased.

Michael, 33

Verified review

I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!

Jesse, 36

Verified review

4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.

Giovanny, 23

Verified review

Hims allowed me to walk down the aisle confident and looking great.

Alexander, 32

Verified review

I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.

Brian, 48

Verified review

The results speak for themselves and I recommend it to all of my friends.

Al, 54

Verified review

I notice a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.

Seth, 27

Verified review

Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger.

Mike, 34

Verified review

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary.

Ways to Treat Alopecia Areata

While there’s not much evidence supporting things to avoid when you have alopecia areata, there are ways to treat your condition.

One recommended treatment for alopecia areata is corticosteroids, which can be injected directly into the bald spot, or topical applications. You can also use minoxidil (brand name Rogaine®), a topical cream used to encourage hair regrowth in locations where hair loss has occurred.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) also recently approved a new treatment for severe alopecia areata called Olumiant, a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that works by blocking the activity of specific enzymes, thereby reducing inflammation.

Your healthcare provider or a dermatologist can determine the best course of treatment based on how severe your alopecia areata is, where you’re losing hair, your age, your health and other factors.

For more, read our blog on how to stop alopecia areata from spreading.

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

No-pill option

Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Spray

From £20.80/month

2-in-1 topical spray applied once daily helps regrow hair & prevent further hair loss.

Important Safety Information

No-pill option

Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Serum

From £20.80/month

Combines two clinically-proven ingredients into one easy-to-use solution applied once daily.

Important Safety Information

Finasteride & Minoxidil Combo Kit

From £22.50/month

Clinically proven duo. Twice daily topical solution and once daily tablet help stop hair loss & regrow hair.

Important Safety Information


From £11.96/month

Daily tablet helps stop receding hairlines & thinning.

Important Safety Information

Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

From £15.75/month

Alcohol-free topical solution applied twice daily helps treat thinning hair & balding on the scalp.

Important Safety Information

Knowing What to Avoid for Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata can be distressing, with patchy hair loss a top sign of this type of hair loss. The condition is caused by inflammation, as an immune response, that attacks your hair follicles — meaning it’s unpredictable.

However, there are things to consider when you have alopecia areata:

  • Foods that cause inflammation might aggravate your hair loss. Instead, eat an anti-inflammatory diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean meats.

  • Stress and inflammation are connected, so working to avoid chronic stress could help alleviate symptoms of alopecia areata. If you’re struggling with high levels of stress or emotional distress as a result of your condition, talk to a mental health professional.

  • Try adding foods rich in vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Although more evidence is needed, there’s some early research indicating low levels of this nutrient in those with alopecia areata.

Dealing with this hair loss can be frustrating. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about what you should avoid as well as treatment for alopecia areata.

You can also learn more in our full guide on alopecia areata, find tips on how to cover up bald spots for a short-term solution and learn how to prevent hair loss.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

Hair loss treatment for a long term solution

Clinically approved options available

90-day money back guarantee

Thousands of happy customers

Get started